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Ukufa kukaShaka, by Elliot Zondi

Ukufa kukaShaka, by Elliot Zondi

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With an introduction by Mpume Zondi

Ukufa kukaShaka is a historical drama by Elliot Zondi,first published in 1960 in the Bantu (later, African) Treasury Series by the University of the Witwatersrand Press. Its plot is based on the events surrounding the assassination of Shaka, the mighty Zulu king, by his two half-brothers, Dingane and Mhlangana, aided and abetted by his paternal aunt, Mkabayi, in 1828. The play explores the classic theme of the tragic hero’s fatal flaws: hubris and overconfidence. Shaka’s ruthless ambition led him to overstep human boundaries, kill with impunity, bar his warriors from having families and force them into endless wars. His blind spot seems to have been to put the survival and expansion of the Zulu kingdom first and the welfare of his subjects second.

Against this backdrop Mkabayi, whose ambitions for a remarkable Zulu nation were more tempered, played a decisive role in his downfall. Zondi explores arguments
both in favour of and against Shaka’s assassination in a way that allows the reader to sympathise with his greater vision and his thwarted plan to fight impending colonialism. His dramatisation of the conflict between Shaka and Mkabayi highlights questions of leadership and nation-building that continue to be relevant today.

Ukufa kukaShaka is part of Wits University Press’ African Treasury Series.

African Treasury Series
The African Treasury Series, published from the 1940s onwards, consists of texts written by pioneers of South African literature in African languages. It provided a voice for the voiceless and celebrated African culture, history and heritage. The re-issue of these foundational texts with new introductions supports ongoing efforts to highlight the importance of writing in indigenous languages, and to remember and celebrate these early giants of African literature. The African Treasury Series is now available in ebook and print formats.

Key words: Play, play script, theatre, Shaka Zulu.

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